Here’s a double shocker. The punditocracy has already started compiling a list of likely swing states for the 2016 presidential race and, shocker No. 2, Florida and Ohio are deemed likely to be the key states that will determine the race.
The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report (until recently just the Rothenberg Political Report and congratulations to Nathan Gonzales for his promotion) has already started ranking states according to swingliness. (And yes, I know, that is not a word.)
The effort at such rankings is ridiculous, understandable and pitiful. Ridiculous because the election is 20 months away. Understandable because birds gotta fly, bees gotta sting and pundits gotta do this. And pitiful because it’s always Ohio and Florida and most of the rest of us are chopped liver.
Ohio, which ranks seventh among the states in electoral votes with 16, has given those electoral votes to the winner in each presidential election since 1964 (that’s 13 in a row, the only state to have done so) and all but one election since 1948 (that’s 17 out of the last 18).
Florida really entered the ranks of the swingliest states in 2000 (when it played a memorably swingly role and we won’t ever really know who got the most votes) but is enormously important because it has 29 electoral votes — fourth most among all states and by far (by 12 actually) the most among swing states.
Rothenberg and Gonzales (who have rated every state in likeliness to give its electoral votes to the blue or the red ticket without any real idea yet who will be the nominee on at least one of those tickets) actually named four pure swing states with no lean either way — Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. Florida and Ohio are the biggest two.
Which brings me to the last adjective above: pitiful. By what logic other than the strange logic of Electoral College-ism would the citizens of the world’s leading democracy accept a system in which the voters of 40-something of the 50 states accept that their individual votes are irrelevant to the outcome but the citizens of four to 10 “swing states” will determine who will be president — and that in all recent cases the list of those four to 10 always includes Ohio and Florida?